Sitting in the corner coffee shop, indulging myself with a soy hot chocolate, watching the rain coming down, the temperature dropping, and the leaves falling, and it is strikingly obvious that our seasons are in transition. If mother nature isn’t enough, there are subtle and not so subtle reminders (store decorations & the candy sales at Winco) just about everywhere I look to inform me that we are in transition. Hanging out on facebook, my eye is caught by the photos that my niece has posted of her son, (does that make him my grand-nephew?) dressed up as a pirate for the upcoming holiday that marks the end of the season of “lighter half” of the year and beginning of the “darker half”, yep….Halloween.
I am the fifth of ten children, the 3rd boy, and I learned mostly be watching. I learned what to do, and what not to do simply by observing what my older siblings were doing. To this day, the best way of learning something for me is to first observe.
I was about 7 years of age, on this particular Oct. 31st, and I noticed something a little different about my older brothers. Nothing dramatic, but, it was starting to get dark, and they were changing their clothes, from regular Saturday clothes, to a little more dirty Saturday clothes. And, they were putting some black charcoal stuff on their faces. I was just watching and wondering. Finally, one of them says “You gonna get dressed up?” Now, I’m really confused. Dressed up means getting dressed in nice clothes for Sunday Mass, not what they’re doing. While I’m pondering this, he says…”It’s Halloween, Stupid. We’re dressing up as bums, if you want free candy, get dressed!” “
Free” and “candy”, could this be true? I had learned long before this that if I had a question about something, my older sister was the one who was less likely to call me stupid, less likely to give me the wrong answer just for fun of it, more likely to have pity for her little brother and help me deal with whatever I was dealing with. But in my frantic state of wanting “free candy”, I just couldn’t take the time to be coddled, so I asked my brothers….”What do I do?”
“Easy”, one of them says, “dress up like a ghost and we’ll show you the rest.” They could both tell by my puzzled look I wasn’t processing this well. “Just grab your sheet, cut a couple holes in it for eyes, pull it over your head, and wallah, you’re a ghost.”
Cutting the holes turned out not to be the most difficult part of the costume. But after tripping over the sheet a half dozen times in the first block of our neighborhood, walking in a full sheet was proving to be the tricky part. Falling down another half dozen times I finally figured I could tuck the loose ends of the sheet up into my belt. I was now ready for some serious free candy getting, which I had just learned was really called “trick or treating.” Cool.
By this time, my brothers were long gone, but, I had this figured out. I had my grocery bag filled with more candy than I had seen in my life, and it was all mine. I went home, ate as much as my little body could possibly ingest, and hid the rest under my bed. It took me at least a month to eat the rest of the treats, and only a few years before I had a sheet on my bed without two little holes.
Why do we celebrate Halloween? Heck, I don’t know. That’s for someone else’s blog. Or Wikepedia. But, as this season of holidays are rapidly coming upon us, take a moment, breath, reflect on some of your holiday memories. What are some of the memories you will make, for the years to come.
Have a wonderful Halloween, and for heaven’s sake….Have fun.